Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Review. . . . A Month of Sundays

Ok, so this is a little unusual for a Friday Review.

Quotidian Grace recently blogged about an article that ran in a Seattle newspaper. The article is A Month of Sundays. In Seattle, the least churched city in the Country, a newspaper sent 30 reporters to visit houses of worship (primarily Christian, but at least one Muslim and one Jewish) on a weekend and to report about the experience.

This is a chance to see how the unchurched see us. As an evangelism resource, I thought it was valuable.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Questions of the Week . . . Immigration

There has been a lot a debt in the public square regarding issues of immigration. How to you think the church is called to respond to this national issues if at all?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sunday Devotional - Peace & Security - Healing the Gerasene

Stained Glass design of Christ healing the demon-possessed man from Gerasene, as described in Luke 8:26-39

Healing the Gerasene

Scottish audio version here

Jeremiah 33:6 Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. (NIV)

Explosions in Afghanistan. Fighting in the streets of Baghdad. Brutal slayings in Gaza. And genocide still going on in Darfur. When, o when will all this warring madness end?

We all want abundant peace and security, but the forces of greed and evil, pride and power are corrupting the earth. We all want wars to cease and killing to stop, but men with guns in their hands and leaders with hatred in their hearts want to obliterate their enemies, opponents, and competitors.

The old prayer of Jeremiah falls upon deaf ears – when was the last time we heard that the UN was getting involved? When did they last reconvene to hold emergency meetings over these current crises? When did they send out people to bring about a lasting peace?

And what about our churches? We’re so tied up with our own theological problems, issues, and divisions that our voice is no longer heeded, heard or hoped for. We’ve become so insular that we forget there’s a world out there full of starving and suffering men, women, and children.

We need to do something more than just hoping for the best and praying for peace. We have to tear down the walls of indifference in our hardened hearts and begin to care about these issues. We cannot let another day go by just being thankful to get through it. We must begin to apply Christ’s message in our lives, so that, instead of ignoring these problems and switching off our compassion, we get agitated about the injustice, indifference, and inhumanity that billions are experiencing in our world today.

For too long, we’ve become cozy Christians who seek comfort in our own isolated world. Christ didn’t come to be among us just to set up a private faith and personal spirituality. He came to call us to be servants of God’s Kingdom, to agitate the world, to confront evil, and to bring a healing across the nations. Just as Christ did in the land of the Gerasenes.

We all want abundant peace and security – so what are we going to do about it?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Prince of Peace and we are Your servants, therefore we are called by You to be instruments of peace, reconciliation, and compassion. Shake us from the tree of coziness that we shelter in. Take us out of our comfort zone and make us into the peacemakers that You want us to become. And at the end of this day, may our hearts and minds be open to what’s going on in the world, instead of casting it aside as just another day. In Your Holy Name, we seriously pray. Amen.

Stushie writes the daily Heaven's Highway blog

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Veto Vet

Veto Vet

As Mr. Spock would say, "That is illogical, Captain."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Review. . . Christian Century Online

Today I was checking out a thoughtful article on Christian Century's homepage written by Rowan Williams. Now, most people who read this blogring are web experienced enough to know that most magazines have a web page -- and a lot of them have significant amounts of content available free. Christian Century is no exception.

Did you know, however, that Christian Century is home to a blog, called Theolog? It is also home to a series of on-line articles published by one of the really well-known (but not Presbyterian) religious bloggers, RealLivePreacher.

Check it out.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Do Not Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. NIV

At this time last year, our church underwent some serious trouble. One of our staff members had terrible personal problems, which in turn affected the whole congregation and created a small division. It took a great deal of focus, energy, and determination to endure and overcome the fall out. A lot of prayer was said and eventually the tide turned. We lost eight members, but by the end of the year, we still managed to have an overall gain of eighteen people. God’s mercy enabled us to carry on our ministry and mission at Erin Presbyterian. Through His grace, we did not lose heart.

Since then, we’ve undergone recovery. We’re still picking up the pieces and are only beginning to restart some projects that fell by the wayside. For the first time in a long time, we’ve let God carry us, as well as lead us. It’s been a humbling experience, but in the end it will prove to be a worthwhile one.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians so long ago, he was addressing them as someone who had been through a lot of trouble, grief, and pain. He had been beaten up for his faith, cast out of different cities, shipwrecked, and almost lynched on several occasions. He had also been arrested, thrown into jail, and was now awaiting trial. If anyone had a right to lose heart, it was Paul, but he also relied upon God’s mercy to get him through the bad times, as well as the good ones.

He was also writing to a church that had its share of problems. The Christians at Corinth were going through a cultural war, where members of the congregation were struggling with adhering to Christ’s demands, as opposed to accepting the world’s ways. They wanted to be holy, but not different; they aspired to be faithful, but not unfashionable. Paul reminded them of their special calling in order to help them get back on the right track. And even though he was hundreds of miles away from them, Paul embraced them in his heart and loved them back to the Gospel.

Today, you may be doubting yourself, your faith, your church, your purpose, your personal ministry and mission. Remember that God is merciful and that through Christ, He will sustain you. Do not lose heart, for remember, He who called you to do His will is patient, gracious, faithful, and forgiving.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we feel so unworthy, so unprepared, and so faithless at times to fulfill the ministries that You ask us to undertake and accomplish. We get frustrated and impatient, bedeviled and beguiled by our fears, our doubts, and our problems. Grant us Your grace to sustain us through our worst experiences and most troublesome of times. Lead us by Your love, so that we will not lose heart, nor let go of our calling. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Stushie writes the daily devotional Heaven's Highway, which you can link to from the blog listing on the right of this page. He also went on Blogachute #5 on the website, which turned out to be quite informative and exhiliarating...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Review. . . . Father's Day

I don't care for sappy stuff. I am not into sentimentality. I have never made a scrapbook.

I wear the Frozen Chozen label with pride.

That being said, this is still extremely effective -- especially at Father's Day. (Just turn off the sound.)

Love Letter From God


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hump Day Prayer . . . Irish Blessing

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine upon your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near to you and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
- traditional irish blessing

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Question of the Week . . . Vacation Bible School sometimes is no Vacation

Today was the first day of our Vacation Bible School. Our theme this year is fairly unique, its hot air balloons and its nice to have something different. I am teaching the science section and today was fun but I am tired. As I was thinking of various themes that have been trendy the past years (jungle, bugs, safari) and I thought it might be funny to share our most horrific VBS stories? Bad themes? Out of control directors? I know some of you out there have some great ones, why not share them with us?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sunday Devotional - That Empty Feeling

Isaiah 63: 17 Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. (NIV)

One of the saddest sights that I see in ministry happens when people decide to no longer come back to church. It happens in every congregation that exists, but for different reasons. Sometimes people fall out with the pastor; at other times they fall out with the denomination; and there are other occasions when they just fall away for no apparent reason at all. They just fade quietly into the background and then they're gone. Their spirits are empty of God and their hearts are hardened. Whatever faith they once experienced is all gone, used up, and diminished.

In Glasgow, Scotland, there’s a controversy brewing because the Presbyterian Church of Scotland is closing a church building that was built over the site of a sixth century church. People from Glasgow are protesting and citing family connections of their great-grandparents as reasons for keeping the church open. But the sad and realistic fact is this: if the people have stopped going to church, why keep it open? Sometimes the biggest hypocrites are those who are outside of the church who want to keep it open for all the wrong reasons.

A church has a life, a ministry, and a mission to accomplish – it’s a living organism. It’s not a building, a sacred sanctuary, or a treasure house of memories. Every church is a mission station, not a museum.

As society changes and our Christian culture become more irrelevant to our civilization, we must ask ourselves this question: are our churches empty because our spirits are empty? Are our churches being closed because our hearts are closed to God?

I think we know the answers.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, come into our hearts so that we may come into Your churches. Take away our pride and arrogance, so that we may humbly serve and worship You. Remind us that faith is not a leisure pursuit, but that it is an eternal lifestyle choice. Keep us mindful that our lives belong to You and that our souls are empty without You. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Stushie writes the daily devotional "Heaven's Highway" which you can visit from the links on this page. He also blogachutes on Fridays from the same blogpage - last Friday's was a humdinger!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Taking Liberties

...and liberty with justice for all...

Taking Liberties

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hump Day Prayer . . . the Church

Almighty and ever-living God,
ruler of all things in heaven and earth,
hear our prayers for this congregation.
Strengthen the faithful,
arouse the careless,
and restore the penitent.
Grant us all things necessary for our common life,
and bring us all to be of one heart and mind
within your holy church;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - BOOK OF OCCASIONAL SERVICES

Monday, June 04, 2007

Questions of the Week . . . Calling and Questioning

Yesterday the sermon at church was about “the call” using the call Samuel as the text. I am sure you all have heard similar sermons in the past. But the preacher said something that I had never heard before and it was this, “God calls us through the questions we ask.” What do you think?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sunday Devotional - Dad's Camera

John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. (NIV)

My Dad loved to take photographs, in and around the city of Glasgow, where our family grew up in Scotland. Practically every Saturday morning, he would catch a bus to go downtown and walk around the city streets with his wee camera. He would photograph buildings and stores, street signs and busy roads. He would make pictures of statues and fountains, churches and pubs, parks and ponds.

When he had the photographs developed, he would write out short comments about the history of the places he visited. He built up amazing scrapbooks of local information. The city that he loved was changing all around him and he knew in his heart that if someone somewhere didn't mark those changes, local history would be lost to future generations.

When my mum died, our family wondered what Dad would do and we worried about him. But then he surprised us all by contacting a publisher to put all of his photographs, postcards and comments into a book. When he died, eleven years later, he had successfully published ten books. All those Saturday mornings had become a bounty of blessings, not just for him and our family, but for the entire city of Glasgow.

So, guess what some of his children are now doing? Going all over Scotland taking photographs and writing short comments about the scenery, history, local stories and people. Perhaps, in the years to come, other books will be written, for just as Dad made a meaningful life for himself, he has passed on and granted that to his children.

I guess the challenge for all of us today is this: what are we going to do with our time and talents in the life and locality God has granted to us?

Prayer: Lord God, You have blessed us with life and we seek to make it meaningful. Help us to discover our talents, so that we may focus upon them, make something of ourselves, and bring all the glory to You. In Jesus' Name, we purposefully pray. Amen.

Here and There

What are we fighting for...?


...for Hollywood celebrities to party on?